Heike Yates is a fitness and nutrition expert with over 30 years of experience. She is empowering women over 50 to take back their health and strength by designing balanced and straightforward fitness, nutrition, and mindset programs. Heike is the creator of Pursue Your Spark and host of the Pursue Your Spark Podcast. She has developed a reputation for creating real-life solutions and lasting results.
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Passionistas: Hi, and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with Heike Yates, a fitness and nutrition expert. With over 30 years of experience, she is empowering women over 50 to take back their health and strength by designing, balanced, and straightforward fitness, nutrition, and mindset programs. Heike is the creator of Pursue Your Spark and the host of the Pursue Your Spark Podcast. And she's developed a reputation for creating real life solutions and lasting results. So please welcome to the show. Heike Yates.
Heike: Hey ladies. So happy to be with you. Thank you for having me on the show.
Passionistas: Oh, it's our pleasure. So Heike, what's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Heike: Well, that's a tough one because if you have to just pick one thing I would say is empowering other people. And in this case, empowering women, that's the most, what I'm most passionate about. I know that's a broad term empowerment, but if you're giving somebody the tools to do something, whatever it is, it's mindset, body, or nutrition or exercise, whatever it is, you've given them the tool to do something, to get better at where they're at.
Passionistas: How does that translate into what you do for a living?
Heike: I don't just say here's a diet, here's an exercise program. Now go do it. It's more like, what do you want to do? Where are you in your journey? What have you experienced already that worked and didn't work? What would you like to do in the ideal world? If you go all crazy, all out, well, what would it look like for you? And then rebuilding around those things and putting them all together with the spark system to, to first figure out what somebody wants and their background, how they can put this in a plan for them that works for them and not for me or anyone of you. Um, but that it works for them personally, and that they also can continue to build on the baby steps. As I like to call them, to grow with the system, to grow with what they're learning and they're not stuck.
And once let's assume the program is over, you're like, okay, now what? That there is something afterwards that you can take the tools learned and go, okay, this is great. Now I know how to put a meal together. What, what does a meal involve? And I don't have to go and say, Oh, now I have to find a recipe. And now I have to, Oh, can I eat this? Can I not eat this? No, this meal will have all components and you just make out of them what it is you would like to make out of them.
Passionistas: So let's take a step backwards for a second. You grew up in Germany and then you moved to DC. So what brought you to the States? What was that journey?
Heike: I love to travel. This is my, one of my other passions. I love to explore new things and this passion for empowerment travels into everything that I do. And I wanted to literally just travel the world, the world, and a job at the foreign service here in Washington, D C and well, that's where my travel ended. I met my first husband. We had two amazing kids and my kids are now all over the world. And I'm still here in Washington, DC and people wonder why I'm still here. I'm like, I just love it. I mean, you can say about what you wanted about, do you see, and it's a government city and so forth, but it has everything that I need and want. And I can do my little travels to the beach from here. It's three hours to the beach and I can go hiking within an hour. So it has that sense of freedom and independence that I'm looking for when I initially started out in Germany.
Passionistas: So then why did you leave that nine to five corporate life that you had come to have here?
Heike: It's so boring. I'm so sorry. It's just really boring to sit on your butt ski. As I like to call it for such a long period of time and there's, to me, there was no adventure. It was sitting from nine to five in the same office, on the same chair, on the same desk, doing the same work. And he just kept doing the same things over and over. And I didn't feel like it in besides I had two amazing kids and I draw, they wanted to spend my time with them and sitting somewhere, doing boring work. And my husband at that point, he was working. So we had an income, even though it was small, I still was able to stay home with the kids at least one at first and, um, hang out with him at this point. And I said, you know, let's just go.
I mean, I gotta bite the bullet and let go of the money. But staying home as a mom, wasn't that easy. Why not? Because you're home alone suddenly with a toddler and you don't have any conversations. You don't go anywhere. You have a couple of friends who basically on the same boat and we're all like, okay, so our careers are left behind and now you're here with the kids. Now what, where is us? Where's the person that I was before I became a office worker before I became a mom. What happened to Heike at that point? Where does she? So that was a little tough.
Passionistas: So how did that lead to a career in fitness and nutrition?
Heike: It goes with empowerment and my freedom of independence, my seeking independence. Well, I got really big when I was pregnant. I had, before that I had quit smoking. Cause I guess I was smoking back in the days everybody smoked. And, uh, you know, if you stop smoking, you eat more clearly. So I was ginormous ended at month eight. I looked like a pink elephant. And I remember the day when I wore this pink outfit with golden glitter on and I was, I thought I was looking so cute. My husband said, you're look fantastic. And I look at the picture and I said, Oh, I look like a pink elephant.
And having children, sometimes the weight just doesn't come off. Many women say, Oh, you just go nurse the baby. And the pounds will fall off. And you look like before, well, none of that happened. I had still 30 pounds to lose. And my girlfriend said there is a class at the church from the local YMCA, a, uh, community service based, uh, exercise programs and just, I did music. It's like dancing, let's go. And so we took the class and I could bring my son, which ended up screaming for the entire time in the nursery. But I didn't know that. So I was fine and I loved the class, but I would have not thought that I was going to teach this class, but they were looking for teachers and they said, Hey, you moved a well in class. Why don't you start teaching for us?
And they actually teach, you're trained me for the program. And so I had training, I had my son in daycare who kept screaming. I don't know. He kept screaming and screaming, but at some point I think things went better, but, and that's how I started out. And that gave me just a little bit of money and a little bit of away from home, away from the kid and gave me my own identity. Back to that, I hike. It can create now something brand new that has nothing to do with office work and government and all this kind of stuff. It's something that I would have never, ever thought I would ever do. Teaching aerobics classes, me, but that's how my fitness journey third. And then when did you bring the nutrition element into it? Once I started teaching classes, people ask you all kinds of things.
And, well, I didn't know that much about nutrition, but I knew how to eat healthy and cook healthy meals. And that was always part of how we grew up at home. But then I became also certified as a personal trainer along the way. So as I kept teaching classes, I was just interested in more things. It's like, Oh, if I can teach glasses, what else can I do? Oh, I can become a personal trainer. I can teach somebody how to lift weights. Oh, this is cool. But most people want to get in shape and want to maybe lose a couple of pounds. Well, how do they have to eat? Oh, okay. They have to eat this way. They have to exercise that way. And then it translated actually into what I was starting to do personally, you know, growing up in Germany, you exercise automatically.
You don't, uh, oftentimes at least back in the days gyms were there, but people would bike and walk everywhere and we'd walk to the grocery store and you take public transportation. It's not like in the States where everything is in the car, in the Metro and people move very little. And so being exposed, this new fitness environment, I was like, this is really cool. How can I help somebody that I'm not training with weights and bands and all this stuff to get in shape? How can I help them eat better, get more energy. And like I said, maybe lose a few pounds or answer questions about, should I eat more protein? Should I have a high carb diet or what, what is Keto and all these things. And so I took what I've learned through certifications and educational classes, um, for my own training. And the first thing I did, I became a bodybuilder.
So a bodybuilder needs to know how to eat correctly or not eat or hydrate or build big muscles. I mean, guys, I never got huge. I was much more muscular than I am now and much more cut, but this is another whole different learning process of how can you eat this way in order to get bulk? How do you eat this way in order to lean out? Um, and that was another perfect learning environment. And that then translated, you know, the story goes on and on. I became a runner as a runner, you eat completely different than you eat for building mass. So I started marathon running. So now I had to learn about endurance training and endurance nutrition. And what should you eat when you're out for a 20 mile run? Or how should you, as everybody loves to do the cart loading before a big race. Uh, and so all these steps then going into becoming an ultra marathon runner. So that's over 26 miles. So I ran the JFK 50 miler and again, another completely different way of eating. Cause when you think as a marathoner, you eat your goos or your liquid gels, that is all sugar. And you're done in a relatively short period of time. When you train for longer, Oh my God, you eat chips and M&Ms and salt and cookies. You would not believe [inaudible] told me about that a long time ago.
Good stuff is out there on a trail race that is offered. But you, again, you're out there for 15, 20 hours or even longer for longer races. So you need a whole different type of nutrition. And so then I was like, okay, this is great. And I want to do something different. So I got into triathlons. Well, here we go. Another completely different system. You're swimming, you're biking and you're running. So I had this running nutrition under control. I didn't know anything about the bike nutrition or what do you do when you swim two miles, you clearly don't stop and have a sandwich or, you know, and so it was a learning process of the different sports that I chose, uh, that taught me a lot about nutrition. But along the way, I've always believed you need solid education and or certification or a really good ground where you can grow from.
So I became a precision nutrition certified coach for, um, sports performance. And that really helps a lot explaining why something is and why your body metabolizes this way and how you can get the best nutrition for different sports. And it's the same works for anybody. If you come to me, it's a hike. I walk, well, I can tell you the same thing because it's all about biomechanics kinesiology and, and metabolizing foods and so forth.
Passionistas: So now how did all of this lead to working with women over 50?
Heike: I am almost 60. So I experienced what a lot of women around me experience slower metabolism, no energy, belly fat, um, here, not shiny, uh, lack luster. And you know, when I look at how I have trained, I got to a point, despite all my training, I'm changing hard, I'm doing everything right. I kept gaining weight.
I nothing really works. So I, once again had to switch gears and going, okay, so everything that's worked until my mid forties, early fifties doesn't work now anymore. My thyroid is not the way it should be. I had changes in, I don't have a thyroid at all, but it's still I'm affected by different hormone changes in my body. As funny as it sounds right? So I'm past menopause, but I'm still going through the hot flashes or I can tell in your listeners probably can hold their ears, but I can tell if I were to get my period, my stomach gets rounder. I get these bloated feelings that if you ask somebody, they're like, Oh, you're just making this up. This is really not happening. And, and you way past this, but it's not true. And my endocrinologist choose these as your body will continue to go through hormone changes.
And so we have to adapt your thyroid levels based on where you are. Every six months, we need to test so many women around me have said the same things. And they're like, man, nothing's working. What can I do if I exercise my butt off and still nothing happens. So we need to do things differently than we've done them before. And with the 30 years in the experience in the field, I think I have a lot to offer when it comes to over 50 and how to do things better. Now that we're older and that we're not the spring chicken, we're not with the same metabolism and also not the same needs. I mean, I am not particularly crazy about a high intensity interval, crack class. I don't know about you, but my knees are not. I mean, yes, I run, but I can take care of my knees, but jumping around and doing some super hard stuff is just, and that's what I hear from many women.
They, they feel the same way. And so that's, I'm here to help. And you also fitness nutrition, and then mindset is kind of the third component. So why is that an important element in all of this? I would almost go the backwards it's mindset, exercise nutrition, or you can the change the last two pieces. But I think the mindset is really where it starts with self care. It starts with, how do we feel about ourselves? How do we empower ourselves? What do we think about ourselves? The self value that we have, the old stories, the old beliefs that we, we keep telling ourselves that we are not good enough, not smart enough. We don't know these things. And they translate into a fitness and nutrition package. Let's put it that way as well. Because if you start out not taking care of yourself, you don't know how to exercise, right?
You don't know how to eat, right? You do everything maybe for somebody else or you as I call it, you dim your light and you just stay under your little light and never shine for what your true potential could be. And that's why I think the mindset component is really the key to the success in overcoming these obstacles that we come along in over 50 lifestyles. And then yes, we can't help our skin gets saggy. I mean, it's just the whole hormone changes again, but we definitely can do about something about how we think about ourselves and how we treat ourselves, how we treat ourselves, right?
Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and you're listening to the Passioistas Project Podcast in our interview with Heike Yates. To learn more about her, Pursue Your Spark Podcast, visit HeikeYates.com. Now here's more of our interview with Heike.
Talk about Pursue Your Spark and what spark stands for.
Heike: Pursue Your Spark! Pursue Your Spark is in simple terms, the cook, the opposite of sim your lights So pursue your spark came out of a whole bunch of reinventions of this brand. It had different names before, and none of them really grabbed me and, and expressed what I wanted to be it's that any woman can pursue any spark in their lives. Does it mean, uh, you want to get a new haircut? That's a spark. You want to try new lipstick. That's a spark. You want to empower yourself to eat better. That's igniting a spark. It's the catalyst. And they become the catalyst, something bigger. There's this gateway that they can open up with, pursue your spark, to become something bigger than themselves. Something more than they thought they could reach and something that empowers them to do better than they did before.
Passionistas: And what is the SPARK method?
Heike: Oh, this is my top secret. No, I'm just kidding. Secret SPARK method. And it is built very similar to what I just mentioned is you first, you evaluate where you are. So you start, you look at where you are, you see where, uh, where you need help with and, and, uh, where you can grow where your basis is basically, then you take your basis and then you start a plan, a thing, things like I'm a Walker. I know I can walk two miles, but I would love to do a 10 K race. That'd be like, I always dreamed about this. Okay. So you currently work walking two miles. So how this is your base. What will be the next step is to create a plan that is sensible and doable for you to get to the 10 K that we'll be planning phase number two.
And then you go into also the dream and this, in this case, it will be the dream thing. Okay. The 10 key is my stepping stone to the next thing to maybe something bigger, but it doesn't have to be. And then you're looking at what's possible and what's not possible. And that's where the roadblocks come in. The mindset like my feet hurt after three miles, this sucks. It's hot, it's raining. Um, I don't know if I can do this or I don't have good shoes. So what do I do now? And these roadblocks that sometimes are just imagined roadblocks, but they're there. And then as I say, in the end, we kick ass and we're going to follow up on the plan that we had from the get go. And so you keep evaluating each phase and you're like, okay. So here's my dream. Here's my goal.
Here's the first plan that I had. Okay. This works great. So we keep going, Oh, we'll tweak it. If it's not working great, let's get the roadblocks out of the way. So we're not thinking of things that are maybe not there, or if it's a new pair of shoes, we'd get a new pair of shoes. And then we'll pursue that goal. That spark till you get to the finish line and you go like, I'm over the finish line, whether I want it rented or anyway, but you did it. And that's a spark method. Talk about what your clients sign up for with your services and maybe how that's changing right now. So I have a brick and mortar business, which I've had for a long time. And I've pivoted these people that I've known for many, many years into an online program. And that online program is, is an, I offer this to anybody, even if you haven't been my client before one-on-one is like, I work with you over zoom or any other channel that's convenient to you.
So I can see you in person. And we're doing basically the SPARK methods to start with and determining what you need, what your goals are. And based on that, I'll train you over the internet virtually for one hour. So that's one part. I have small group training programs where you're in a small group of up to 10 people and everybody is in the small group together, and everybody does the same program. And this group also will meet online through a Facebook group. So you have connections and contacts. And I offer larger programs for individuals that are three months or 12 week programs that are geared exactly to who you are, where you are, where you want to go in a three months span. So these are those programs. I am about to start the 4-Week Lean program. And that is a 28 day program for women over 50.
They want to boost their metabolism, learn about intermittent fasting. And now I'm a huge fan of intermittent fasting, and they want to take their life now and say, okay, I want to learn how to exercise and includes exercises for the whole 28 days, strategies, habit, building strategies, and help somebody to kickstart or tune up their fitness lifestyle. So if you, if you're the person who knows everything about intermittent fasting, that's not the program for you. If you're the person who wants really hard, tough busting exercises, this is not the program for you. And so these are the programs that I offer. And then I have a couple of free guides that I offer the five, four 50 lifestyle, again, a tuneup guide that you can get for free on my website and the kick quick start to intermittent fasting. That's also a free guide for anybody that wants it.
So I'm thinking, keeping busy over the Corona virus, building programs, and, and finally, in a good sense, I had time to sit down and create this content, shoot the videos for the programs, write out everything and put it together. And you know, everything that goes with it, the behind the scenes stuff that nobody sees. And they're like, Whoa, look at this. And you're like, yeah, this took me a year to do. And I mean, I can't complain. I'm sorry about the situation. And I do miss my friends. Then I do miss seeing my in-person clients. But on the other hand, I'm meeting some amazing women online that I can connect through this way and can offer services that I know make a difference.
Passionistas: And you also have a podcast which is called Pursue Your Spark. So tell everybody about that and what you hope women take away from that podcast.
Heike: My podcast started out solely me and, uh, I'm talking about fitness, nutrition, mindset strategies for the woman in midlife and specifically the women over 50. And I coach everything through my podcasts that you may get in block form, or you can, um, get on my posts on social media. But my, my podcast is really a free source for you to learn more about intermittent fasting, more how to exercise, um, how to deal with mindset strategies when it comes to overeating or whatever the components are that we're talking about. But since I'm a very social person, I'm inviting guests as well. And my guests come from all walks of life. What they all have in common is that they overcome or overcame an obstacle. You find anybody. And this week's guest is, um, somebody who's battled breast cancer for a long time with a double mastectomy. So she will be on this week's podcast
Or you can find somebody that is a much more crazy runner than I am, who ran into Infinitus is a 888 mile, 888 kilometer race self-supported. So you can find her, or you can find somebody like my friend, John Dre, who is a, what used to be a jet fighter pilot, who had to battle the health system too, which is where she is now alive, because she said, if I didn't fight the healthcare system, I would be dead today. So what do these women have in common? They overcame obstacles. They empower you the listener to take action. And you may find yourself in those stories and saying, man, yeah, I know about this one that had Lyme disease. Oh, I can talk to her and ask her questions or the bladder. I have problems with my bladder. Oh, I can reach out to hike this podcast and talk to the person that she had as a guest.
And these stories help us not only be empowered and learn about each other, but also know that we're not alone, that you're not alone in your struggles that somebody else somewhere in the world has probably the same or a similar problem. And we'd love to connect with you, or we'd love to love for you to listen to their story and to help you out with what they experienced and what they've learned along the way. And that's my goal of the podcast. I love my podcast.
Passionistas: What do you think is your best habit?
Heike: Best habit is I'm very disciplined. I am extremely disciplined. If I set a goal, I'm going to go and do it. And, or oftentimes get myself in situations where I said, this sounds like a great idea, like becoming a bodybuilder and I'm at it. And I'm learning everything. And I'm very disciplined when it comes to the practice, to the, doing it, to the executing it. And just a little side note for the bodybuilding story, my girlfriend who got me into all of this, she did not compete she's I just couldn't get it together. I come and cheer for you. And I was like, Oh, I thought we were doing it together. I think that's my I'm very disciplined.
Passionistas: What's the most rewarding part of your career?
Heike: I get to kick everybody's buttski. I wouldn't say that. Um, but, well, it's true though. No, I get to help people be healthier. You know, my clients in my career have ranged from kids age eight to now my oldest client is 94 94. And when you look at the range of needs, these different people in different age groups in brackets have, it's just you, you I'm like your cheerleader by the side. Oh, you get to stand up from the toilet. Yes. Winner. Or you can run a race. Me and yes, I want to see the metal. It's just helping people to move forward with their health and not get stuck in what is so prevalent in the U S is heart disease overweight. I'm like, I'm here for you and you don't have to be definitely not perfect. And you don't, I will always cheer you on not no matter how little your accomplishments are.
Cause it doesn't matter to me what Susie down the road does or how wonderful she did, whatever it matters to me, what you do and what you can accomplish every day. And when somebody comes in and says, hi guys, I've been really bad. I'm like, what do you mean by that? Well, I didn't eat a clean diet. I may have had a muffin or whatever this week. And I didn't stick to the plan that I was thought I was going to do. And I'm like, well, if you only had one muffin, that's a win right there. You didn't need the whole box.
Passionistas: Do you have a dream for women? And what is it?
Heike: Not really a dream. But I would say, I like to think of it as a more of a reality that we need to step up to the plate without fear too much. And right now in the past, in the past with the me too movement is like, we're sitting there hoping that somebody will do something for us to fix something or to make it better. And instead we need to step up to the plate with a clear message of what we want and how we want things to be and what we're not standing for. That's what I, my, my vision is. Um, and I hope I raised my daughter this cause she doesn't stand for any of that. She is like, Nope, she's after it. But I think instead I like rather than a dream, it's, it's really a reality cause we're right in the midst of it.
And there's no better time for women to step up to the plate then right now to speak their mind. But clearly and succinctly. And um, one of my podcast guests has actually helped me through her book to do that in a, in a part of my life that, um, and it was about asking for something and not instead of saying yes, I wish could you potentially, and maybe wouldn't it be nice if to say, no, I deserve this because I do this and this, and here is why I deserve this thing or this raise or whatever it may be that we really step up and not be afraid of the consequences that the reaction is from the other person, which I think a lot of women still, and I'm not excluding myself. They're either grapple with that. I'd rather sometimes not say something because I'm thinking, Hmm, what are they going to come back with? And this is something we need to move forward.
Passionistas: What do you think is your secret to a rewarding life?
Heike: Happiness. It's all there is to it. If you're not happy from the inside out, then your life could be as beautiful as shiny inexpensive and whatever. But if you're not happy, happiness to me is everything. And it's like, what I tell my kids is like, are you healthy? Are you fine? Yes. But then my next question is, are you happy? Because if you're not happy, then to me, at least nothing really matters.
Passionistas: Thanks for listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Heike Yates. To learn more about pursue your spark visit HeikeYatescom.
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